I get fired up about the sheer volume of misinformation out there about food and nutrition. Typically those who are spreading these falsehoods stand to benefit from people believing the lies, such as the big food companies who want you to continue to buy their cheap, unhealthy, addictive “food stuff,” or the person trying to sell the latest fad diet. Most products sold in a package cannot even be considered food given that it is primarily made up of chemicals and additives, and are highly processed. As Dr. T. Colin Campbell states in his latest book, Whole, “Businesses cater to the Standard American Diet (SAD) composed largely of white flour, white sugar, hormone-injected and antibiotic-doused meat and dairy, and artificial colors, flavors and preservatives.”
Myth: A Calorie is a Calorie
One of the most blatant lies that is still floating around out there is “a calorie is a calorie,” which suggests that it doesn’t matter what you eat because the affect on your body is the same. This is just plain and simple bullsh*t. The quality of the calorie not only impacts how it is used or stored by the body when it’s first ingested, but also has a long term effect on your health. The body is fed by nutrients, not calories.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves approximately 3,000 food additives, preservatives, and colorings, which forever alter the nutritional value of foods to which they are added. The further away a food is from its natural form, the less efficiently the digestive system can break it down, if at all. These artificial ingredients in processed food are foreign to the body and result in chronic inflammation or worse.
Our diets that are high in animal protein and processed food also causes excessive oxidation in the body that results in free radicals that are responsible for “encouraging aging, promoting cancer, and rupturing plaques that lead to strokes and heart attacks.” The World Cancer Research Fund published its review of more than 7,000 clinical studies of the relationship between diet and cancer and stated: “Processed meats are too dangerous for human consumption.”
Dr. Campbell explains that the ideal diet is whole, plant based foods. Plants counteract free radical production with antioxidants. “When we and other mammals consume plants, we also consume the antioxidants in those plants. And they serve us just as faithfully and effectively…protecting us from free radicals and slowing down the aging process in our cells.”
Low-carb diets have been the fad and heavily marketed over the past several years. These diets result in quick weight loss due to the decrease in calories and appetite loss, but these “benefits” don’t last and adverse affects such as cancer and heart disease come into play in the long term. The word “carb” to identify carbohydrates was introduced as a marketing tool. They didn’t distinguish in the beginning that carbohydrates from plants are quite different from the processed carbs lining our grocery store shelves. Carbs have gotten a bad reputation over time due to the highly refined, processed foods that make up most of the carbs we eat. However, the carbohydrates that come from high-fiber, low-glycemic fruits and vegetables, such as bell peppers, celery, collard greens, onions, snow peas, zucchini, tomatoes, limes, lemons, berries, and Granny Smith apples, are great choices for a healthy diet.
Stay tuned for more nutrition myth busters over the coming weeks.